Decimals and Roman Numerals
Date: 10/22/98 at 03:21:16 From: Richard Collecutt Subject: Roman numerals Do you know of any method for representing Roman numerals in a floating point format? For example, does 10.5 = X.V?
Date: 10/22/98 at 08:26:37 From: Doctor Rick Subject: Re: Roman numerals Hello, Richard. The Romans didn't have a standard way of writing fractions (or decimals.) Usually, they just wrote out the appropriate word, such as "tres septimae" for three-sevenths. When they needed to do serious calculations with fractions, the Romans used the uncia, a unit that meant 1/12 of anything. There were names and symbols for different multiples of the uncia. For example, six unciae, or 6/12, made up the semis. The semis meant one-half, and its symbol was an S cut in half (this looks a lot like a backward 2.) Unfortunately, uncia symbols didn't follow any real system, and they were never entirely standardized. Jeff Miller's page on the "Earliest Uses of Symbols for Fractions and Decimals" has more information about the uncia: http://jeff560.tripod.com/fractions.html It's important also to understand that Roman numerals are not a place- value system; there is no ones place, tens place, etc., so there is no "place" for a decimal point. If I were to invent a system for writing fractional quantities in Roman numerals, other than writing a fraction with Roman numerals in the numerator and denominator, I would take a cue from the method, occasionally seen, of writing a horizontal bar over a Roman numeral to signify multiplication by 1000: _ M = 1000 * 1000 = 1,000,000 and use, say, a bar under a Roman numeral to signify division by 1000. - Doctors Rick and Ursula, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
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